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Air Medal

U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons

U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons

BACKGROUND

The Air Medal, established by Executive Order 9158, May 11, 1942, as amended by Executive Order 9242, Sept. 11, 1942.

 

CRITERIA

The Air Medal is awarded to U.S. and civilian personnel for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight and foreign military personnel in actual combat in support of operations.

 

Required achievement is less than that required for the Distinguished Flying Cross, but must be accomplished with distinction above and beyond that expected of professional airmen. It is not awarded for peace time sustained operational activities and flights.

 

Approval or disapproval authority is delegated to major command (MAJCOM) commander or vice commander for military and Secretary of the Air Force for civilians and foreign military personnel. MAJCOMs will identify the missions and positions that qualify for this award. HQ USAF/XO must certify MAJCOM criteria.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal is a bronze compass rose of sixteen points with a fleur-de-lis design on the top point. On the obverse, in the center, is an American eagle, swooping downward (attacking) and clutching a lightning bolt in each talon. The reverse has a raised disk on the compass rose, left blank for the recipient's name and rank.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has a broad stripe of ultramarine blue in the center flanked on either side by a wide stripe of golden orange, and with a narrow stripe of ultramarine blue at the edge, the original colors of the Army Air Corps.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat “C” and Valor “V” Devices

 

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR COMBAT “C” DEVICE

The "C" device was established to distinguish an award earned for exceptionally meritorious service or achievement performed under combat conditions on or after Jan. 7, 2016 (this is not retroactive prior to this date).

 

The device is only authorized if the service or achievement was performed while the service member was personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action (must have come under fire or engaged with the enemy with direct and lethal fire and are at the risk of grave danger):

  • While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States

  • While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or

  • While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party

The use of the "C" device is determined solely on the specific circumstances under which the service or achievement was performed. The award is not determined by geographic location. The fact the service was performed in a combat zone, a combat zone tax exclusion area, or an area designated for imminent danger pay, hardship duty pay, or hostile fire pay is not sufficient to qualify for the "C" device. The service member must have been personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action.

 

Rank/Grade will not be a factor in determining whether the "C" device is warranted, nor will any quotas, official or unofficial, be established limiting the number of "C" devices authorized for a given combat engagement, a given operation, or cumulatively within a given expanse of area or time.

 

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR VALOR “V” DEVICE

The "V" device is worn on decorations to denote valor, an act or acts of heroism by an individual above what is normally expected while engaged in direct combat with an enemy of the United States, or an opposing foreign or armed force, with exposure to enemy hostilities and personal risk.

 

Effective Jan. 7, 2016, the “V” device is authorized on the Air Medal. As a reminder, the use of the "V" device on the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award is only authorized for the period of Jan. 11, 1996 to Jan. 1, 2014.

 

(NOTE: The establishment of the Gallant Unit Citation and Meritorious Unit Award warranted the discontinuance of the "V" device being authorized for approved USAF unit awards).

 

WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 3